The latest in nightmares from The White House will cause much more of a tremor through Trump’s administration than his trigger happy executive orders.
Highlighting the continued fracture between government and the country’s intelligence agencies, leaks revealed that Flynn was suspected of discussing sanctions (that the Obama administration was about to place on Moscow for possible meddling in the US election) during phone calls with the Russian ambassador, Sergei Kisilyak, in December.
This would have been against the law, as private citizens are banned from engaging in foreign policy and at the time Flynn was not yet in his position.
Flynn initially denied it happening, and Vice President Mike Pence came out to reinforce the denial and defend Flynn. But last week, Flynn admitted he couldn’t be 100 per cent certain that sanctions were not discussed in the secret conversations, which meant he had (publicly, at least) misled the vice president and president.
Trump was said to be “evaluating the situation”, but true to her alternative facts form, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Trump had “full confidence” in Flynn.
Last night, reports broke that intelligence agencies told Trump weeks ago about Flynn’s vulnerability to Russian blackmail and Flynn resigned shortly after with a statement saying:
"Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events I inadvertently briefed the Vice President-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador.
“I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology.”
The former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) chief is also reportedly being investigated by the army for accepting money in late 2015 for a speaking engagement in Moscow, which could have breached military rules.
The reason why all this is a big deal and not some cock-up (apparently a requisite for a position in the Trump administration) from a guy who’s been in the job for less than a month? The US intelligence community suspects that Flynn’s contacts with Kisilyak dated back to before the election, raising more questions about whether the Trump campaign had any knowledge of the Russian effort to skew the elections.
Speaking of which, a former aide to Hillary Clinton took glee in the news, tweeting a reference to the Flynn family’s circulation of a FAKE NEWS story that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring out of a Washington pizza shop:
Which Hillary Clinton herself retweeted and had her own words for Flynn:
And here’s a friendly reminder of what Flynn had to say about Hillary thinking she was above the law as he staunchly supported Trump’s campaign run, and ironically stating that if he did “a tenth of what she did, I'd be in jail today”:
Whether any of this will have a consequence for Trump is yet to be seen, though it can’t hurt to still keep your fingers crossed for impeachment (what’s that we hear? Crooked Trump?). His approval ratings have already dropped to 40 per cent and this could cause them to plummet further, which at the very least will drive him insane.
Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, has demanded to know when contact with Russian officials started and how far up the Trump chain of command did responsibility for those contact rest. He said:
“The Trump administration has yet to be forthcoming about who was aware of Flynn’s conversations with the ambassador and whether he was acting on the instructions of the president or any other officials, or with their knowledge.”
More shit could hit the fan (yes, more), but we’ll have to wait for it. Admittedly, probably not very long given the way things have gone in less than four weeks.
In the meantime, retired army general Joseph Keith Kellogg has been announced as acting national security adviser.